Thursday, May 26, 2016

Breaking in the Boots

Before any of the field work could begin, Lyndsie was kind enough to introduce Nate and I (all three of us new to Hengill this summer) to the fantastic pylsur.
Hot dog, they're good! Perfect for lunch, dinner, and breakfast!
Also before any field work could begin, we had to hike in about 40 minutes from the car because the river was too high to drive across, thanks to the previous night's storm.
Saw that one coming.
Unfortunately on Monday, Lyndsie discovered that the pipes she is using to transport stream water for temperature treatments burst in multiple spots, so new couplers needed to be added in order to regain water flow.
Ecologist or handywoman? Both!
We were nervous about the repairs because the PVC cement had become clumpy, which apparently means you're not supposed to use it. Did we still use it?
If there's a will, there's a way!
The black pipe's glue held and successfully gave us this picture (along with water flow), and we will soon see about the success of the broken white pipe! In the meantime, Nate is going to hide from the cold spring weather in this snow bank.
It's going to be cold all summer, so we might not see him again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

MSU Field Crew Arrives

The MSU crew (Nate, Lila and Kate) arrived in Iceland today after ~24h door to door travel time! Since the Veidi is kind enough to let us store equipment there during the year, we got off pretty light on lab packing this summer:

Scale, for scale

Nate and Lila made good use of a 6 hour layover in their own respective ways...

Not pictured: running through JFK for our very last connection of the day. But once we got on the plane, there was a neat view of the midnight sun somewhere around Greenland:

We'll blame poor photo quality on sleep deprivation...

Once we landed in Reykjavik we met up with St. Kate's tech/lab manager Delor at the airport, then took a bus to Hafnarfjörður, the neighborhood we'll be living in this year. The weather's about 45F with 30mph wind gusts, so we all hunkered down to wait for our ride to the house.

Just your average Hafnarfjörður science hobos
The plan is to spend tomorrow prepping gear at the Veidi, then head out to Hengill on Thursday to do some landscape sampling!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2016 Channel experiments start

Today we got the 2016 channel experiments started. Yah!

 This year, we are manipulating temperature and phosphorus. Below, Lyndsie and I are celebrating the start of the experiment. Lyndsie is a beginning masters student at The Ohio State University who's thesis will focus on the channel experiments.

We'll leave the details of setting up the experiment for a later post.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Getting our Phosphorus Enrichments Up and Running

It was a super-successful week here in Iceland, kicked off with a bit of good ole-fashioned shopping.

Dr. Benstead at the local 'Bauhaus' hardware store, headed for the kiddy aisle.

We were searching for a few important items that would allow us to mix and drip phosphoric acid (our experimental treatment) into our study streams. One of our main goals this year is to experimentally 'pollute' 4 of our study streams with phosphorus to understand how nutrient pollution and temperature interact. First and foremost, we needed solid eye protection! Folks, never mess around with acid!!

This is me, feeling safe, secure, and ready for action.

Our next stop was the Icelandic shipping company, "Eimskip", to pick up a few barrels of our phosphoric acid. This was exciting, industrial times! Just have a look at those scary barrels of unknown origin and contents!

Jon. . in absolute awe.

Now, in terms of transporting our gear to the field sites, we lucked out - bigtime. The long road in to our sites was clear and free of snow. This meant there was no need to carry our gear the full 7 or 8 kilometers from the paved road to the streams (a daunting task we were anticipating). Instead, we were able to walk just a short distance across the valley to get things rolling. 
Team work

Once we arrived at the sites, we assembled the dripper gear, mixed up our phosphoric acid solution, and started our nutrient enrichment experiments!  A few shots of Jon Benstead in action:

"Is this really happening?"

"Yes . . I think this IS really happening. . . "

Deep thoughts into a big barrel of ~20% phosphoric acid.  We are using these large barrels to store multiple weeks worth of phosphorus.

And a few more choice shots. Below is one of our more difficult dripper sites. As you can see, the snow hasn't quite receded yet, making for exciting  - and damp - times.

Finally, here's another site that required a bit of, shall we say, excavation:

Stay tuned. . there's more to come soon. Alex Huryn, Jim Hood, and Phillip Johnson arrive tomorrow, and they will begin setting up our streamside-channel experiment.  

Friday, May 6, 2016

Preparing for our channel experiment

A view of the stream (buried under snow) that feeds our stream channel warming experiment

We spend yesterday morning in the studio of Gudny Magnusdottir, an Icelandic potter that has a gallery in the center of Reykjavik. 

Gudny has been kind enough to help us burn and ash thousands of basalt tiles in her studio in Kopavogur, Iceland. The point of this is to remove - by extreme heat (500 degrees centigrade) - any biological material that may be remaining on the tiles from last year.  

Jon was feeling particularly good about this. . . . 

Thanks to Gudny's very large kiln, we were able to accommodate all three thousand of our tiles in one burning. . . . we are very thankful!

Here is a small sampling of her work. . . . beautiful stuff. .come to Iceland and check it out!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

And the summer of 2016 begins. . .  .

with Icelandic flag donuts!.  . .yep. . burp.

This summer we plan to add phosphorus to 4 of our streams (for 12 weeks!) in an effort to understand how nutrient pollution and temperature interact to influence species interactions and ecological processes.

Look out for upcoming posts as we get rolling.  BUT - for now, check out a recent video podcast about our work.  This was put together by our film team, Hans Gassman (MFA student in the MSU Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program: and Dennis Aig (the director of the School of Film and Photography at Montana State University).

check it out here:  VIDEO HERE